Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to visit Nepal this week | Mint
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Business News/ News / India/  Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to visit Nepal this week
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Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to visit Nepal this week

The 26-27 November visit is Shringla’s first to Nepal since taking office earlier this year
  • The ties between the two countries became strained after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a strategically crucial road in Uttarakhand on 8 May
  • File Photo: The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries (PTI)Premium
    File Photo: The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries (PTI)

    NEW DELHI: Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla is to visit Nepal later this week on a two day visit seen mainly as a trip aimed at stabilizing ties rocked by a bitter border row between the two countries earlier this year.

    The 26-27 November visit is Shringla’s first to Nepal since taking office earlier this year.

    "The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries and the priority India attaches to its relations with Nepal," the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement. He is to meet his counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal and other dignitaries. The visit will be an opportunity to further advance our bilateral ties, the statement said.

    "On the first day of the visit, the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries will hold bilateral meeting and discuss wide ranging areas of cooperation between Nepal and India," the Nepalese foreign ministry said in a statement, according to PTI.

    Noting that India has historical and civilization linkages with Nepal, the Indian foreign ministry said that in recent years, bilateral cooperation had strengthened, with several major infrastructure and cross-border connectivity projects completed with India's assistance.

    The ties between the two countries became strained after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-kilometre long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on 8 May. Nepal protested the inauguration of the road stating that it passed through Nepalese territory. And some days later, Nepal came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories. India had then reacted sharply, calling it a "unilateral act" and cautioning Kathmandu that such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable to New Delhi. The lower house of Nepal’s parliament however went ahead and approved a bill showing the Indian territories as part of Nepal – a move India termed as untenable.

    On 15 August, Nepalese prime minister K.P. Sharma Oli called Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend greetings for India’s Independence Day – a move seen as an effort to bridge the differences. This resulted in a visit earlier this month by the Indian army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane to Nepal seen an effort to reset ties between the two countries. During the visit, Naravane held talks with Nepal’s top leadership including Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, who also holds the defence portfolio. Naravane was also conferred the honorary rank of General of the Nepali Army by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at a special ceremony, a decades old tradition reflecting the strong ties between the two militaries.

    Shringla’s visit to Nepal also comes at a time when China is seen as actively involved in defusing tensions that have been cropping up in Oli’s Nepal Communist Party. Last week, the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi met Oli and held talks for about two hours. Oli has fractious ties with his colleague Pushpa Kamal Dahal that have surfaced from time to time including in July, according to news reports. China’s efforts to resolve the tensions between the Nepal Communist Party leaders also comes as Beijing is seeking to increase its economic footprint in Nepal as well as other countries in India’s periphery.

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    Published: 23 Nov 2020, 07:00 PM IST
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